Ramalingam.PL was a significantly well performing student during his Engineering, but what made him stand out was not his brilliance at academia but the sheer intent to come up with solutions that can impact many. It is this attribute of his that deems him a winner. During his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, he worked on a project after realizing that conventional balers used by farmers required the power of a tractor (which would cost in lakhs) and often become burdensome for small scale farmers. He along with his college mates came up with a prototype of a device which can be used manually and would serve as a cheaper alternative . Very soon this innovation landed him at The President’s Office where they were awarded with Gandhian Young Technical Innovation Award.
Accolades followed them, as he soon received the ICTACT Student Innovator Award in the year 2016. As one may expect of him, he was soon working on multiple projects. Few notable mentions among which is the one on hybrid vehicle on Green Energy which got him the recognition by Indian Society of Technical Education and a multi purpose wheelchair which made Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology award him. Ramalingam identified a big challenge in the wheelchairs used for patients with spinal cord injuries. The patients often needed to undergo standing therapy, which often need more human assistance or high end electronic standing wheelchairs. The team developed the standing wheelchair which could translate between positions manually without external power sources. Another important intervention is that this idea has remarkably reduced the weight and cost to avail these facilities.
The electronic standing wheelchairs usually weighed around 120 kgs, but this innovation has drastically reduced it to 19 kgs (nearly the weight of a regular one i.e 17 kgs). The initial prototype were prepared by the money pooled in by members and which later received more impetus with the prize money that they won. The team has also filed for a patent in Chennai, which now remains to be pending.
The team is now engrossed in efforts to make the design to ensure 100% safety of the patients who use it. The wheelchair ensures maximum mobility to the patients but they cannot move by themselves while standing since it doesn’t run on external energy source. However, the patients using this wheelchair could move double the distance with assistance as compared to previous models. The design has optimized armrest cuts to make all adjustments smoother and make it convenient for the user to switch positions.
In 2018, Ramalingam and team won the 3M CII Young Innovators Award in the Social Innovation Category. “All our ideas are focussed to solve a crucial social problem, a problem that has pestered many for long. The decision to make the standing wheelchair came from that same inherent desire. We are also trying to come up with a model of wheelchairs for children with special disabilities,” said Ramalingam.
P.L. Ramagalingam and his innovation was also a winner at the 3M CII Young Innovators Challenge 2018 under the Rural Innovation category. The applications for the 2019 challenge are open. You can apply from the link given below